There is a great visionary question we all need to ask ourselves expressed by Dr Kenneth E. Priddy: “How does God want to express himself through our church in our community at this time?” Churches have spent countless hours planning, discussing, and preparing vision statements only to place them in a file in a desk drawer.
Here is the reality. Having a vision statement in no way guarantees that your church will be a visionary congregation. Developing a vision and mission statement is a great step in the right direction, but it is only the first step.
Having aspirational values (who we desire to be) does not guarantee they‘re actually our values. Ken Priddy continues, “Most congregations claim allegiance to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, but few truly demonstrate a sacrificial love for neighbors or a serious commitment to outreach and evangelism.”
How true and sad it is to see churches that know they should be pursuing the lost but lament new people coming into their congregation and the church growing.
How do we ignore and reject the clear teaching of the Word of God that the early church was growing and flourishing? We read how they added to the congregation and even how they multiplied. When Christians are no longer functioning as they should they begin to fall prey to becoming insider focused on those they already have. The voices of people inside the church become louder than those outside the church and outside the faith. The vision stales and fades over time because it must be renewed regularly.
Unfortunately, the how becomes a higher priority than the why. Ministry silos begin to form as members only focus on “their” ministry and “their” area. They build silos that they protect and begin creating a “them versus us “ mentality. How can you tell when this is beginning to happen?
First, complacency and the status quo begin to replace commitment and sacrifice.
Second, being served and having your personal needs met replaces serving others.
Third, the bottom dollar and watching the budget begins to replace ministry and generosity.
You do not have to lift a finger or do anything for the downward slide toward selfishness to happen because we all drift that way naturally. Dr. Priddy continues, “In order to move the congregation toward new vitality, you must get buy-in or ownership in the Great Commission vision and strategy that must prevail. You’re not looking for simple agreement, cooperation or consensus; you’re looking for conviction.” Conviction confirmed through the word of God and the Holy Spirit.
There are five terms you must understand in developing a mission statement:
First, we must understand the term mission. The mission of God is why we exist. It is the Lord’s mission and it is mandated and commanded by him. We do not get to vote on it. Our only choice is between obedience and disobedience. The mission of God does not change because Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Your church does not have a mission. God’s mission has churches that are to obediently carry it out. If we are not reaching new people with the gospel of Jesus Christ then we really do not have a biblical foundation to function or exist.
Second, we must understand the term vision. The vision is where we are headed and a picture of a preferred future. We lose sight of the mission we are on and our vision to carry out that mission begins to fade. Maybe this explains why, on average, churches under three years old reach one new convert for every three members. Churches that are three to seven years old reach one new convert per seven members but churches over ten years old have one new convert for every eighty nine members. Could it be that we no longer have a vision for God’s mission?
Third, we need to understand the term strategy. This answers the question of how we will carry out the vision. Doctrines remain the same but the methods of engaging ministry can be very different. Your vision may be to reach a college campus with the gospel of Christ while your strategy will be the steps to make that happen. How will you fulfill the vision God gave you of carrying out His mission? You cannot choose the culture God has placed you in, but you can remain culturally relevant and biblically sound. Just check out Acts 17.
Fourth, we need to understand the term team. This is who will carry out the strategy that the Holy Spirit has revealed to you through implementing God’s ministry vision. He places different members on the team with varying gifts to be a complete body that functions fully the way God intended. Sometimes we see someone’s gift asa threat or competition when in reality they complement one another. We should always be asking where do we need help and who has God given us to help in that area?
Fifth, we need to understand the term values. This answers why we are doing what we are doing. We need to check our motives and make sure they are biblically based. Do we value God’s mission more than we value our preferences? Plateaued and declining churches have begun to turn inward! These churches once valued the lost so much that they were willing to do just about anything short of sin to reach them with the gospel. There was a time their church wept for them but now no one seems to remember any tears for the lost.
These four dynamics of the vision question are God’s vision through your church in your community at this time. The mission has never changed: “Go and make disciples!”
Copyright © 2021 by Larry Barker @ https://healthychurchpodcast.com/resources/. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.